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Three Chinese curses

May you live in interesting times.

Mission accomplished. I'm there, as we all are. As we always have been, during two million years of the human experience.

May you attract the attention of the government.

I'm there, as I have been for years. To remove all doubt, about five years ago I placed a call to then-Governor Napolitano's lead advisers on two topics, Energy and Agriculture & Natural Resources. I begged and pleaded with them, but they kept coming back with their singular response: "There is nothing we can do about global peak oil."

It took a couple years for me to figure out what they meant because, of course, there are many things the government can and should do to mitigate for declining energy supplies. Government officials could start by letting citizens in on the truth about energy.

So, what did members of the governor's staff really mean? There are no politically viable solutions. In this case, telling the truth is political suicide. The impending death of millions of people -- and perhaps billions -- pales in comparison to political careerism.

May you find what you're looking for.

I'm talking to a naturalist I barely know. His one-year-old son is resting on his shoulders and treating a cattail as his personal magic wand. The seeds of the cattail are falling into the hair and beard of the 40-year-old naturalist as the boy succumbs to his own personal energy crisis and, fighting all the way down, succumbs to slumber.

I'm writing a book about the dire nature of our predicaments and I mention the high likelihood of a global economic collapse within a decade or so. The naturalist doesn’t bat an eye before responding: "I hope I'm around to see it. I don’t want my son to have all the fun."

Fast forward six years, and I'm sharing a property with the naturalist and his young son. Collapse of the industrial economy is well underway, and has entered the acceleration phase of its death spiral. Obviously, we will live to see the final stages of the ongoing collapse of the industrial economy. As a result, we might see the living planet takes the first tentative stages to a comeback.

Or perhaps not. Maybe in the coming few years we will die, collateral damage of the demise of the industrial economy. Just like entire ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico and the millions of species organisms within them, consumed by the fire as Rome goes up in flames.

Maybe lifting the curse of industry will reveal a worse fate, at least at the level of individuals. But it's difficult to imagine a situation in which termination of the industrial age will not improve the lots of every non-industrial culture and every non-human species on this planet.

May we find what we’re looking for, regardless of the personal cost.

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